Tuesday, September 20, 2011


This time two weeks ago, I was waking up on a sunny morning in Bordeaux, looking for the first café au lait of the day. The Mister was across the road, buying pains au chocolat, and we were looking at one another sadly, for it was the day we were due to fly back to London.

We had three hours to kill before it was time to get on the airport bus; that most depressing of transport types. We had already walked most of the length and breadth of the city but we knew it was important to keep moving and not think too much about the holiday taking its last gasps of air, and light, before being consigned to a dusty suitcase of memories.

We walked around until lunchtime, as the students at the University streamed out of classrooms and onto sunny squares, as office workers took cigarette breaks and murmured covertly over cups of coffee, and as more new tourists streamed into the city, gaping up at the magnificent sea-horses at Girondins, and snapping the circus big top pitched at the Esplanade des Quinconces. We met a sweet German couple in their seventies who asked us to take their photo with their old 35mm camera. They beamed for the picture like two lovesick schoolchildren. The Garonne glistened and beckoned as children played in the fountains at the Miroir d'eau.  I took a breath, on the tram back to the Gare St Jean, and held it, sitting very still, while I listened to that little voice inside, which said, why not stay?

Collecting our bags from the hotel, we had a minor argument, about something trivial, like luggage tags, or whose bag held the dirty laundry. It was only because we were both sad, and we had nothing to be angry with Bordeaux about. It was like it was something to do whilst waiting for the airport bus, because it was better than thinking about what we were doing; leaving this beautiful place which had enchanted us and made us want to stay and do anything just to have a little dog and live in an apartment with a balcony and raise French-speaking children.

We put our things underneath the bus and they got pushed to the back, as they always do. A family of South Africans sat near to us and talked very loudly about their cars and houses, their tannned blondeness and plentiful gold watchery seeming out of place on an airport bus. As we passed the Grand Theatre, and then the Piscine Judaïque, and finally the international school,  I cried a little. I turned my head away to the window, so no-one would see, and I made a promise to myself.

One day, little voice. One day soon, I will.

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